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Required major ingredient: Locally or historically significant product
Following his dream to one day design wedding cakes, Seth enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Charleston’s baking and pastry program in 2007. “I’ve always been interested in comfort food, not so much fine dining,” he says. His Lowcountry Cannoli, however, offers a bite of both. When Nathalie Dupree exclaimed, “This is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth,” this full-time student definitely earned an “A.”
For the Benne Cannoli Shell:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra to butter cannoli tubes
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 10 oz. light corn syrup
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
For the Carolina Gold Rice Filling:
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla
- 1 qt. milk
- 1 pt. heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 3/4 cup Carolina Gold Rice
*Chef’s Note: Be sure the ricotta is very dry by placing in a cheesecloth-lined colander and draining over a bowl in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, gently mix ricotta, one cup sugar, and vanilla until combined. Place in a container, cover, and refrigerate.
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, for coating
- 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar, for dusting
For the Benne Cannoli Shell:
Butter 12 metal cannoli tubes and set aside. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light in color. Add corn syrup and mix to combine.
Sift flour. Add to creamed mixture one third at a time until fully combined. Fold benne seeds into mixture. Refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Drop tablespoons of dough six inches apart onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until tiny holes form all over shells. While still hot, wrap shells around buttered tubes. Let shells cool, then remove them from tubes and store in an airtight container.
For the Carolina Gold Rice Filling
In a heavy saucepan, mix milk, cream, salt, split vanilla bean, and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Stir in rice and simmer, covered, over very low heat for 45 minutes, or until rice becomes tender. Allow to cool fully, remove vanilla bean, place rice mixture in a container, and refrigerate until thickened.
Dip ends of shells into melted chocolate to coat, than dip coated ends in benne seeds. Use a spatula to gently fold ricotta mixture into Carolina Gold Rice mixture until well-blended. Once chocolate on shells has set, add filling to a piping bag and pipe into shells from one end at a time, filling just short of the edges. Dust with powdered sugar.
TIP: As soon as the benne shells emerge from the oven, roll them around the cannoli tubes. “If they’re not hot enough to burn your fingers, they’re going to crack,” says the cook.